Belfast Telegraph

Thousands protested in Northern Ireland against the proposed abortion law changes

Alban Maginness: Health service professionals who object to taking part in abortions must be protected 

The easiest thing to do when things become contentious in your working life is to keep your head down and your mouth shut. But remarkably last week, 815 doctors, nurses and midwives didn't do that, but sent a strongly worded letter of protest to Secretary of State Julian Smith expressing opposition to any change in the abortion legislation here. They are so incensed by the undemocratic imposition by Westminster of an extreme abortion regime on the health service in Northern Ireland that they had to speak out publicly.

Claire Hanna speaking at the People's Rally in the Ulster Hall at the weekend

Alban Maginness: The only way to avoid shambles that Brexit has become is if we agree to re-run the referendum 

There was a delicious irony in holding the Rally for a People's Vote in the Ulster Hall, which for many people is the classic symbol of old-fashioned unionism. On Saturday, the Ulster Hall was politically transformed and the ghost of Paisley's firebrand oratory exorcised by Remain speakers and a capacity Remain audience into a vibrant demonstration of active support for a re-run of the European referendum.

The silent March for the Voiceless protest outside Stormont

Alban Maginness: Government's imposition of new abortion legislation can be halted by people power 

Last Friday's silent March for the Voiceless saw 20,000 pro-life people walking up the hill to the steps of our moribund Assembly at Stormont. It was immensely impressive. This silent, dignified demonstration against the undemocratic imposition of unrestricted abortion in the absence of a sitting Assembly concluded with an extraordinary display of torches that spectacularly illuminated the twilight. It was a moving sight and demonstrated the solidarity of ordinary citizens, both young and old, in opposing the threat to the life of the unborn.

Pakistani Christians hold candles to pay tribute to the Sri Lanka blasts victims during a vigil in Islamabad in April

Alban Maginness: From Sri Lanka to North Korea, Christians are being murdered for their beliefs as never before 

On Sunday, Menik Glynn, a local lady, originally from Sri Lanka, organised a peace walk and street collection that was supported by Protestants, Catholics, Hindus and Muslims. Together, they walked in solidarity in splendid sunshine through Belfast city centre, to demonstrate their support for those Christians in Sri Lanka who were savagely attacked by Islamic extremists in Colombo and Negombo.

Jeffrey Donaldson (centre) alongside Simon Coveney (right) at the FG conference last we

Donaldson right, Republic in the Commonwealth would be good, but not for the reason he gives 

For the past two years politics here has collapsed, becoming like a forlorn museum exhibit, but now even politics in Britain is in serious meltdown. The authority of the prime minister has disappeared. Parliament is currently incapable of making any coherent decisions on Brexit, or suggesting any reasonable alternative to it. Party discipline no longer exists in either major party. Politics is in chaos, verging on the mother of all constitutional crises.

A memorial in Soloheadbeg marks the spot where two RIC policemen were murdered by Irish Volunteers, a seminal and controversial event in Ireland’s fight for independence

Alban Maginness: Why murder of two policemen in January 1919 still haunts political establishment in Irish Republic 

Next Monday, January 21, sees the 100th anniversary of the sitting of the first Dail in the Mansion House in Dublin. Having triumphed over the Home Rulers of the Irish Parliamentary Party in the famous 1918 General Election, Sinn Fein, as promised, boycotted the Westminster parliament and set up a new Irish parliament, the first such parliament since the abolition of the old Irish parliament by the Act of Union in 1800.

Paddy Devlin transformed his political outlook through avid reading

Paddy Devlin's vision of forging a non-sectarian future has more relevance today than ever before 

Last Saturday the SDLP, in line with its very successful series of events to mark the 50th anniversary of civil rights, held an event in St Mary's University College, Belfast, to commemorate the political life and work of Paddy Devlin. It was an extraordinary event for a number of reasons - not least because Paddy, although a founding member of the party, was expelled from the SDLP after a huge public row in 1977. It was a belated rapprochement by the party with Paddy's large and colourful political persona.

Isaac Herzog on his visit to Belfast last week

Alban Maginness: There has never been better time to remember contribution the Herzog family made to Belfast 

Last week saw the visit to Belfast of Isaac Herzog, the recently retired leader of the Israeli Labour Party in the Knesset. It was a low-key visit to the city, in which his father, President Chaim Herzog, was born and briefly lived as a child in Cliftonpark Avenue, just off the Cliftonville Road. The house is still standing and used to have a blue plaque honouring Chaim Herzog and his distinguished family.

Austin Currie MP (right) and two colleagues squatting at a house in Caledon in June 1968

Alban Maginness: Promise of civil rights was lost in violence of State response, which in turn begat 30 years of terror 

The Troubles did not begin on October 5, 1968 despite what is now commonly claimed. What began on October 5, 1968 was the bright but shortlived hope of a reformed Northern Ireland. For people at the time, despite the shocking police violence on the streets of Derry, there was a sense of liberation. A political dam had been breached and a surge of optimism had poured out. Maybe it reflected the optimism and spirit of renewal in France and throughout the world in 1968. However, this surge of optimism was not to last for very long.

Mairia Cahill fought a courageous campaign

Alban Maginness: Brave Mairia Cahill has every right to reject empty apology from the Sinn Fein leadership 

It takes a lot of guts to be Mairia Cahill. Most people would run away before they would take on the intimidating power and strength of the provisional republican movement. But she did and, despite all the republican cover-ups and downright intimidation, she has succeeded in proving beyond doubt to the public that she was abused from 1997 to 1998, at the age of 16, by a senior republican.

Rohingya women at a refugee camp

Alban Maginness: Only Aung San Suu Kyi has the moral authority to bring an end to genocide of the Rohingya people 

On August 25, supported by Mairead Maguire, the Nobel Peace laureate, an event entitled Rohingya Genocide Day took place at Belfast City Hall to highlight the appalling suffering of the Rohingya people in Myanmar. The event did not draw much media attention, but symbolised the passionate commitment of local people in the search for justice for a helpless, persecuted Muslim minority.

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